Managing the Environment


Committing to protecting and enhancing the natural environmental and social values in all our activities


Our staff and others working on our behalf will:

  • recognise the importance of natural environmental and social values and the broader benefits that these provide for the community
  • foster strategic relationships with community and other stakeholders to contribute to the management of environmental values
  • facilitate environmental governance of our activities to deliver broad community benefit through inclusion of environmental requirements in planning, programming, constructing and maintaining processes
  • communicate publicly our environmental policy and our environmental performance.

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators

Percentage of state-wide clearing permit audits of compliance completed (CPS 818 and 817) continues to meet our target

Percentage of state-wide clearing permit audits of compliance completed (CPS 818 and 817) continues to meet our target

Scope 1 and 2 Emissions (t CO2) are lower than expected and come in well under target

Scope 1 and 2 Emissions (t CO2) are lower than expected and come in well under target

Community satisfaction with our sustainability practices came just below target with a slight increase from last year

Community satisfaction with our sustainability practices came just below target with a slight increase from last year

Community satisfaction of our intent towards managing our impact on the environment came within our target*

(* Collected for the first time in 2018)

Community satisfaction of our intent towards managing our impact on the environment came within our target*

  • Achieved
  • More work to do
  • On track
  • Target
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Looking Ahead

  • A significant program of works is planned for the next financial year, some of which have already commenced and include the following:
  • Work with Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to review the operation of our state-wide clearing permit to ensure it meets community expectations with respect to transparency and protection of the environment, whilst also providing an efficient approvals pathway for road safety initiatives
  • Continue to satisfy community expectations and achieve a balance between road safety and environmental conservation objectives
  • Review and revise our contract specifications with the aim of improving compliance with our legislative obligations and ISO 14001:2015 requirements
  • Launch our online environment incident reporting module and develop further electronic training modules in managing environmental risks and responsibilities in contract, project and maintenance activities
  • Complete the research component of the Aboriginal Journeys Project
  • Continue implementation of the Wildflower Capital Initiative
  • Progress the strategic Phytophthora cinnamomi (dieback) eradication trial in gravel resources in the Wheatbelt Region, in collaboration with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
  • Adopt the Infrastructure Sustainability rating tool, version 2.0, for major projects including within business cases
  • Progress the plan to utilise crushed recycled concrete in road construction
  • Support the Memorandum of Understanding for sub-national collaboration on increasing the uptake of electric vehicles.

Our Unique Environment

Our Unique Environment

As managers of the State Road Network we acknowledge that Western Australia’s environment is significant from a global perspective and taking into account the conservation values in our road reserve. This is demonstrated, as the table below shows, by the significant number of threatened flora and fauna species located or having habitats in our road reserves. We have a responsibility to protect the unique flora and fauna that may be affected by our operations and ensure we minimise our environmental impacts. The tables use IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List categories.

IUCN classification Flora Fauna Total
Critically Endangered 17 2 19
Endangered 24 11 35
Vulnerable 25 17 42
Near Threatened 679 33 712
Total 745 63 808

Data for flora obtained from Western Australian Herbarium and Threatened Priority Flora records maintained by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). Data for fauna species obtained from the State Threatened Fauna records maintained by DBCA. Note that the majority of near threatened flora and fauna species are not recorded or reported. None of the flora and fauna species of least concern (i.e. no ranking) have been reported here.

IUCN Red List Ranking

State Classification

As listed under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950

Commonwealth Classification

As listed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1986 (Cwlth)

Critically Endangered Critically endangered Critically endangered
Endangered Endangered Endangered
Vulnerable Vulnerable Vulnerable
Near Threatened Priority 1, Priority 2, Priority 3 and Priority 4 No ranking
Least Concern No ranking No ranking

Our road network transects: sensitive and protected environmental areas such as Ramsar wetlands, wetlands of international importance; threatened ecological communities; environmentally sensitive areas; conservation areas; Bush Forever sites; and habitat for threatened fauna such as Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Northern Quoll, Greater Bilby and Western Ring-Tailed Possum. To view maps of these environmentally sensitive and protected areas in relation to our roads please refer to our website.

Approach to Minimising our Impacts

We use the precautionary principle in our approach to environment and heritage and aim to avoid and minimise impacts wherever possible. The precautionary principle is built into our internal processes and Western Australian environmental legislation.

We manage our operations using a systematic approach in which all our activities are screened for potential environmental impacts. Environmental impacts can include positive or negative changes to the values of our environment. Values impacted might be: physical, that is, land, water and air; biological meaning flora and fauna; cultural and heritage related Aboriginal and European values; and socio-economic and human-health values.

If potential impacts are negligible then the activity is implemented using standard management measures. If potential impacts are identified, the activities require further impact assessment.

We operate on a hierarchy of avoid, minimise, reduce and offset our environmental impacts. This is achieved primarily through changes in scope and design, and the development and implementation of an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and an Offset Proposal.

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Where the environmental impacts are likely to be significant we refer our projects to be assessed by the relevant regulators such as the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy (DotEE), the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), or the Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER). The regulator will decide whether or not to assess the project. Where the regulator does not assess the project, it is implemented in accordance with the relevant EMP. Where the regulator assesses the project, it is subject to a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment and may be open to extensive public and community consultation. We do not implement those projects assessed by the regulators until they are approved, and the relevant approval conditions have been met.

We work closely with the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to identify suitable environmental offsets and obtain approval. Offsets approved by DotEE can be identified in the project’s approval conditions which are available on the DotEE website. Offsets that are approved by the EPA or DWER are advertised on the Government of Western Australia Environmental Offsets Register which is available on DWER’s website.

Aboriginal Heritage

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Western Australia’s lands and aim to protect Aboriginal cultural values wherever possible. We seek to achieve full compliance with statutory requirements and have developed an Aboriginal heritage process that ensures compliance with Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. We also work closely with other state government agencies including the Department of Planning, Heritage and Lands (DPHL) and the Department of Premier and Cabinet to ensure our Aboriginal heritage processes are robust.

We aim to avoid, minimise, and reduce impacts to Aboriginal heritage sites wherever practicable. All our activities are screened for potential impacts in compliance with the DPHL Due Diligence Guidelines using our internal Aboriginal Heritage Risk Assessment. We value the input and contribution of Traditional Custodians and seek, via site surveys and other consultation processes, their advice and opinions regarding potential impacts. In our endeavour to protect Aboriginal cultural values we also liaise with other stakeholders including Prescribed Body Corporates, Native Title Representative Bodies and Aboriginal Corporations and we directly engage with relevant community groups and Traditional Custodians informants. Where it is not possible to avoid impacting an Aboriginal site, Main Roads seeks consent to undertake works from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

How We Stay On Track and Accountable

Environmental Policy

We are committed to the protection and continual enhancement of the environment. This is communicated internally and publicly through our Corporate Environmental Policy. The key objectives outlined in our policy include:

  • deliver our services in full compliance with the obligations of environmental legislation and policy, as a minimum standard
  • manage environmental impacts of our activities through the hierarchy of avoid, minimise, rehabilitate and offset
  • contribute to a sustainable transport system through the delivery of products and services that minimise environmental impacts, conserve natural resources and also achieve positive social and economic outcomes
  • implement, maintain and continually improve an effective environmental management system compliant with ISO 14001:2015 across Main Roads activities.

Environmental Management System

We have an independently certified Environmental Management System (EMS) to ISO14001:2015. The EMS ensures that we protect and enhance the natural environmental and social values in all our activities and we continually improve our environmental performance. Our EMS covers our processes and activities undertaken by personnel who work for and with us, and that have the potential to impact on the environment. The EMS ensures compliance with our legal obligations and provides the framework for driving environmental and heritage requirements throughout our leadership, planning, support, operation, performance evaluation and improvement actions. Through the implementation of our EMS we aim to:

  • Enhance our environmental performance
  • Fulfil our compliance obligations
  • Achieve our environmental objectives.

Key Achievements

Environmental Management of Road Projects

This year we screened 426 projects for potential environmental impacts and determined that 222 of these required further investigations through our Environmental Impact Assessment process. One project was referred to the EPA for potential assessment under state legislation, Section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA), as the impacts were related to the clearing of native vegetation and were managed under a Clearing Permit. We applied for 15 Clearing Permits and 13 were granted. Two are still under assessment. Four Clearing Permits were appealed in 2017.

We used our State Wide Clearing Permit CPS818/12 to clear native vegetation in the delivery of 70 projects in 2017. 10 projects were referred to the Department of the Environment and Energy for potential assessment under the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and four of these projects were assessed.

The following table summarises the number and assessment level of our projects over the past three years.

Level of Environmental Assessment201520162017
Number of road projects subjected to environmental screening 357 298 426
Number of road projects for which environmental impact assessment was conducted 235 160 222
Number of road projects referred for possible assessment under state legislation, Section 38 of Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act, s. 38) 0 1 1
Number of road projects assessed under state EP Act, s. 38 2 1 1
Number of project specific Clearing Permit applications (includes amendments to existing permits) 18** 16** 15
Number of project specific Clearing Permits granted (includes amendments to existing permits) 12*** 22*** 13
Number of project specific Clearing Permits appealed * * 4
Number of road projects that cleared native vegetation using Main Roads state-wide clearing permit CPS 818/12 70 68 70
Number of road projects referred for possible assessment under Commonwealth legislation, Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC Act) 14 11 10
Number of road projects assessed under Commonwealth EPBC Act 4 3 4

Data is based on calendar year 
* Data not previously reported for these criteria and years. 
** Data based on the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Clearing Permit System’s on the criteria of Application Date 
*** Data based on the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Clearing Permit System’s on the criteria of Decision Date

Clearing, Revegetation and Offsets

We strive to find a balance between achieving road safety objectives and the environment and it is not always possible to avoid the clearing of native vegetation. We reduce our clearing footprint where possible by changing the project scope and design, restricting earthworks limits for projects, steepening batters, installing barriers, establishing borrow pits in cleared paddocks and avoiding temporary clearing for storage, stockpiles and turn around bays. Where avoidance is not possible, and after seeking to minimise and reduce our impacts, we then seek to offset our impacts.

In 2017 we cleared 246 hectares of native vegetation for the delivery of 92 projects. To mitigate the negative impacts of this clearing we provided offsets in the form of 83 hectares of revegetation and the provision of $1,978,567 to the Western Australian Offset Fund for the purchase and management of 1,739 hectares of native vegetation. We revegetated, which was not a regulatory requirement, a further 123 hectares using native species to achieve a positive environmental outcome. Further information regarding approved project offsets can be viewed via the Department of the Environment and Energy website or the Government of Western Australia Environmental Offsets Register.

The table below summarises our clearing, revegetation and offset activities over the past three years.

Clearing (ha)   424 487 246
Total revegetation (ha)   176 287 206
Revegetation (ha) (a) 67 3 83
Land acquisition (ha) (b) None settled 3,285 None settled
(Value of land acquired ($))     (16,642,883)  
Financial contribution ($)   971,848 3,077,979 1,978,567
(Area of land to be acquired using the financial contribution (ha)) (c) (216) (691) (1,738)
Total offset (ha) (a + b + c) 283 3,979 1822

Data is for the calendar year. Note that total revegetation area includes both regulatory revegetation and non-regulatory revegetation. 


Management of Aboriginal Heritage Sites in Road Projects

This year we screened 482 projects for potential impacts to Aboriginal Heritage Sites and determined that 54 of these required further assessment. The impacts to Aboriginal Heritage sites was considered unavoidable for 23 projects. We applied for and were granted approval for these impacts under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, 1972 (WA).

  2015 2016 2017

Aboriginal Heritage Risk Assessments

388 451 482

Further Impact Assessment (Archaeology / Ethnography / Anthropology)

** 42 54

Section 18 Applications Granted*

12 18 23

*Applications under the Aboriginal Heritage Act granted within the calendar year.
** Data not previously reported for this criteria and year.

Management of Environmental Incidents

All of our regions and operational areas prepare for the possibility of significant environmental incidents by ensuring there are systems and processes in place for valid contingency planning and incident response. Our environmental incident reporting and investigation process reflects the risk classification adopted across the Transport Portfolio agencies, with five categories of incidents – catastrophic, major, moderate, minor and insignificant.

The environmental incident reporting and investigation process applies to Main Roads as well as to Third Parties, that is, an organisation or a person not employed by or working on behalf of Main Roads. Significant Third Party and Main Roads Environmental Incidents that occurred last year are outlined below.

Significant Incidents (Moderate, Major and Catastrophic)

2015 2016 2017

Incidents caused by Third Parties


Incidents caused by Main Roads or people working on Main Roads behalf

 6 11  19 

Data is based on calendar year. Significant incidents are those defined as Moderate, Major or Catastrophic according to Transport Portfolio risk classification process. Minor and insignificant incidents have not been reported here.

We have noticed an increasing trend in the total number of significant incidents reported since 2015 reflecting a culture we have encouraged and cultivated over the years. We are pleased that our regions and operational areas are embracing the opportunity to identify issues on the network and to seek continual improvement of our environmental performance.

In 2017 there were no incidents classified as catastrophic, one incident classified as major and 18 classified as moderate. The major incident related to unauthorised clearing of native vegetation, conducted for a temporary side track adjacent to the construction area.

Works were stopped immediately and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) was notified for investigation and potential prosecution relating to the incident. The 18 moderate incidents related to spills, unauthorised clearing, working outside of normal hours without an approval and failure to comply with the timeframe of Department of the Environment and Energy approval conditions.

These incidents didn’t incur any penalties or financial sanctions and we addressed these procedural failures through training, changes in processes and increased compliance audits to ensure they are not repeated. In 2017 there were no third party incidents classified as catastrophic or major. Three incidents were classified as moderate and related to unauthorised clearing of native vegetation on Main Roads managed land and were reported to DWER.

Sustainability Assessment in Projects and Operations

We have adopted the Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating tool for our highest value major projects, Australia’s only comprehensive rating system for evaluating sustainability across design, construction and operation of infrastructure. All infrastructure projects exceeding $20 million utilise the IS framework as part of project development and evaluation. Three programs and one individual project have been registered for an IS Rating. Two projects achieved a Design Rating. The Northlink Southern Section was verified as a Leading rating and won the IS Outstanding Achievement Award and the IS Impact Award for a project greater than $20 million in value at the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia awards.

Stand-alone public sustainability reports are produced for our projects with IS obligations. This year Great Northern Highway Muchea to Wubin Stage 2 Upgrade, NorthLink WA – Southern Section: Guildford Road to Reid Highway and NorthLink WA – Central Section: Reid Highway to Ellenbrook, Network WA Northern Section: Ellenbrook to Muchea and the Metropolitan Roads Improvement Alliance have submitted a public Sustainability report. For more information on IS and to view the project Sustainability reports please go to our website.

The following table lists all projects greater than $100 million that have been formally registered for an IS rating and their current status.

ProgramProjectCurrent Rating PhaseTarget RatingTracking Status
Great Northern Highway Muchea to Wubin Stage 2 Upgrade Overall Program Design Commended Excellent
Muchea North As Built Commended Not Started
New Norcia Bypass As Built Commended Commended
Walebing As Built Commended Not Started
Miling Bypass As Built Commended Commended
Miling Straight As Built Commended Commended
Pithara As Built Commended Not Started
Dalwallinu to Wubin As Built Commended Not Started
NorthLink WA NorthLink WA Southern Section As Built Excellent Verified Leading for Design
Northlink WA Central Section Design Excellent Leading
Northlink WA Northern Section Design Excellent Excellent
Mitchell Freeway Mitchell Freeway Extension As Built Commended

Verified Commended Design


Metropolitan Roads Improvement Alliance Armadale Road Design Excellent Excellent
Murdoch Activity Centre Design Excellent Excellent
Wanneroo Road Duplication Design Excellent Excellent

The following table provides information on projects valued between $20 and $100 million and subject to internal self-assessment using the IS rating tool and current status.

ProjectCurrent PhaseTargetTracking
Swan River Pedestrian Bridge – Matagarup Bridge As Built Commended Excellent
New Lord Street Design Commended Commended
Nicholson Road Bridge Over Rail Design Commended Commended
Old Mandurah Traffic Bridge Complete Commended Commended
Great Northern Highway – Wyndam Spur/Maggies Jump up Design Commended Excellent
SMART Freeways Design TBD Not Started

Emissions and Energy

The development, operation and use of a road network consumes energy and generates emissions in numerous forms. The predominant impacts from energy and emissions fall outside our direct control and arise from use of the road network itself. Road transport makes up 15 per cent of Australia’s total emissions and has been the highest growing source of emissions since 1990. We estimate that the road network generates carbon emissions at a rate of 295.6 t CO2-e per million vehicle kilometres travelled (MKVT). In 2017-18 MKVT was 29,609 and thus emissions were approximately 8.7 mt CO2-e from use of the road network. Our current approach has focused on reducing our direct energy use and emissions generation but we are aware of our ability to influence outcomes from our contracts and from the road network use. For example, travels times have been improved in locations across the network including by up to two minutes on Leach Highway and Ennis Avenue. Less delay and stop-start traffic has a positive effect on carbon emissions from the road network.

Carbon Reduction Plan

We have a Carbon Reduction Plan and Target, 5 to 15 per cent reduction on 2010 levels by 2020, focused on Scope One and Two emissions and have had a Climate Change Adaptation Plan since 2011. Our total emissions across our facilities over the past year were 25,886 CO2-e, achieving our target which was to be below 29,597 CO2-e.

In December 2017, the State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Sub-National Collaboration on Electric Vehicles (EVs). The MOU is an output of the Climate Action Roundtable. Broadly speaking it aligns with Main Roads’ Sustainability Policy and could be leveraged to drive positive outcomes for the key aspects of Sustainable Transport and Environmental Footprint specifically energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality and noise. Since the meeting a draft Terms of Reference has been developed by Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and circulated. As a result, we were nominated joint lead to ‘Take a coordinated approach to the strategic planning and construction of infrastructure for EVs’.

Energy Usage and Greenhouse Gas

GHG Type (t CO2) 2016 2017 2018
Fuel* 2,833 2,860 3,088
Street and traffic lights 18,759 16,804 18,614
Buildings 4,978 4,230 4,183
Air travel* 263 271 331
Projects and maintenance fuel use 8,405 8,010 27,661
Offsets -2,879 -1,183 0
Total 32,359 44,472 53,877

* Note: Maintenance fuel usage and air travel are Scope 3 emissions


GHG Category (t CO2) 2016 2017 2018
Scope 1 3,000 3,046 3,296
Scope 2 23,571 20,848 22,590
Sub Total 26,571 23,848 25,886
Scope 3* 11,073 11,381 27,991
Offsets -2,879 -1,183 0
Total 23,692 22,711 25,886
  2016 2017 2018
MJ per km State Road 8493 8101 8850
Scope 1 & 2 t CO2 per
km State Road
1.44 1.29 1.40
Energy Source 2016 2017 2018
Electricity Usage (MJ) (within) 112,676,588 105,404,169 116,622,673
Fuel and Gas Usage (MJ) (within) 44,555,099 45,095,868 47,353,145
Projects and maintenance (outside) 119,369,318 290,651,418  374,828,266

Climate Change Adaptation

We have identified more than 50 kilometres of State Roads that have been assessed to warrant earlier, more detailed evaluation for the impacts of climate change. The indicative replacement value of this at-risk infrastructure is in the order of $165 million. A fundamental aspect of our Sustainability Policy is climate change. Our Key Aspect Management Plan for Climate Change includes a progressive approach to embedding adaptation practice into standards and asset management practices. An important activity was embedding resilience into our asset management framework.

Materials for Road Building

Natural materials are crucial in road building. Our philosophy on materials use is to minimise lifecycle impacts, including embodied energy, and follow the hierarchy of reduce, re-use where possible, and recycle materials to their highest end use possible. When obtaining road-building materials, we endeavour to avoid clearing natural vegetation. On-site materials unsuitable for use in road construction are used, as appropriate, for rehabilitating areas where road-building materials were obtained.

Crush Recycled Concrete (CRC) is a road building material which is under utilised in Western Australia at this point in time. We recognise our role in establishing on going practice for this use of this material. A key project during 2017-18 was the development of a forward program of major projects which is aiming to utilise up to 100,000 tonnes of CRC from projects commencing in 2018-19. We have worked extensively with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and industry stakeholders, including the Waste and Recycling Industry Association of WA in developing this forward program.

Imported Road Construction Materials

Indicator 2016
Sand (t) 354.0 768.7 5,722.9
Gravel (t) 1,506.8 1,244.4 1236.7
Crushed rock (t) 409.5 404.3 684.5
Limestone (t) 142.0 462.2 814.4
Aggregate (t) 72.9 83.8 172.6
Asphalt (t) 5,750.2 1,199.0 2700.6
Other (t) 915.3 1.8 66.0
Concrete and steel (t) kerbing, barriers, bridges and concrete culverts 1,064.8 244.9 152.2
Other (t) 7.4 0.8 1.5

Waste Materials to Landfill (Waste)

Resources Recycled Indicator 2016
Kerbing (m) 1,097 8,947 474
2,426 442 6
Existing seal (m2) 3,464 212 12,474
Unsuitable material (m3) 15,808 3,607 27,877
Other (m3) 3,675 2,559 703

Materials Recycled

Rehabilitation purposes (t) – unsuitable material 8.7 4.3 7.0
Sand (t) 19.24 5.4 73.7
Road base (t) 6.4 0.0 37.4
Asphalt/Profiling (t) 23.0 12.2 26.8
Steel (t) 0.2 0.9 5.6
Concrete (t) 0.3 6.7 0.3
Office waste (t) 1.6 3.2 1.6
Other (t) 96.97 0.0 17.8
Total (t) 156.5 32.7 165.4

Data is based on calendar year

Waste Management: Roadsides, Buildings and Facilities

Roadside waste across the entire state road network requires ever-increasing attention to control. We are collaborating with key stakeholders, interested parties and community groups to implement a consistent litter management approach for the state whilst taking into account individual regional requirements. We continue to implement our State Wide Litter Plan which has been developed with the primary objectives to educate road users to take their litter with them and reduce the occurrence of litter and illegal dumping. This has been done through greater public awareness, increased community buy-in and participation in litter reduction programs and behaviours.

Our commitment to improved waste management practices is evident in the design, construction, operation and ongoing management of our offices and depots, incorporating waste management principals in the design and construction to achieve 5-star Green Star and NABERS ratings. We also have a suite of waste avoidance strategies across our offices and waste management plans for our depots that include a variety of materials, such as asbestos, concrete, steel, aluminium, batteries and waste oil. The separation of general office waste and recyclables is encouraged by providing paper, battery and printer cartridge recycling facilities.

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